Conceptualizations of the Good and the Bad Life: Two Sides of the Same Coin?

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Abstract

Scholars and laypersons conceptualize the good life similarly; however, good life conceptualizations vary systematically across different groups of people. The objective of the present study, therefore, was to qualitatively explore developmental trends in Indians’ conceptualizations of the good life. Adolescents, young adults, and adults responded to an open-ended questionnaire on conceptualizations of the good life. Constant comparison analysis of the responses yielded 5 overarching constituents of the good life, namely: an ideal self, a pleasant life, fulfilling relationships, achievement, and a better world. Developmental progressions in conceptualizations of the good life and individual differences in motivational orientation were identified. Together, the findings hint at cross-cultural similarities, developmentally accorded variations, and individual differences in conceptualizations of the good life.

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